Habit number five in the bestselling book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" is "Seek first to understand and then to be understood." That could have been the motto of Southwest Minnesota State University alumnae Rachel Patnoe.
The Mustang golfer was awarded the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship to help continue her education. Only 29 male and female student-athletes are awarded the scholarship every year. It is considered one the of the highest academic honors an athlete can receive. This award comes on the heels of a distinguished academic and athletic career at SMSU.
Patnoe could have rested on her laurels senior year, but she was curious. For a senior project, she researched the autoimmune disorder, Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). As an infant, Patnoe was diagnosed with ITP, which leads to excessive bruising and bleeding. She received a complex treatment mechanism and no longer has the symptoms.
Even though Patnoe never took an immunology course in college, she was driven to find out more. "I wanted to learn about the specific treatment helped me. I also wanted to learn about the biochemical mechanics and how that reaction occurs in some people" said Patnoe. That involved a lot of extra work on her part.
Extra work never seemed to be an issue for Patnoe, whether it was in the classroom, in the community, or on the links. She spent her summers teaching golf to kids in her hometown of Milbank, S.D. She took part in the Adopt-a-Highway program, food drives for the Marshall Food Pantry, and wrote letters to local elementary school kids with the Mustang Pen Pal program.
Patnoe credits her focus to her mom and dad. "My parents taught me to be diligent in my studies and work," she said. They also taught her how to drive and putt. Golf outings became "family time," which helped her in competition.
She made the high school varsity team in seventh grade and was recruited by SMSU a few years later. In Marshall, she excelled in class and on the course, earning a 3.97 GPA and finishing thirteenth overall in program stroke average with an 87.1
The Milbank, S.D. native is not planning on slowing down. She applied to accelerated nursing programs at the University of Sioux Falls and South Dakota State University. She hopes to work back in a small town.
In the sequel to the seven habits book, "The 8th Habit," author Stephen R. Covey added one more trait, "Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs."
Patnoe is well on her way to making that the motto of her future.